Bauer Business Focus

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Chris Tripoli | June 4, 2010

Published on June 3, 2010
Chris Tripoli on KUHF

Houston restaurant consultant Chris Tripoli talks to KUHF about the risks and rewards of opening a restaurant.

On Bauer Business Focus – Chris Tripoli, a well-known Houston restaurant consultant, talks to KUHF business reporter Ed Mayberry about what it takes to make it in the business.

Houston is city of opportunity for the aspiring restaurateur: it’s a growing, prosperous city where consumers spend nearly half of their food dollar eating out.

On the flip side it’s an intensely competitive market where being a great chef is no guarantee of success, said Tripoli, whose firm A’ La Carte Foodservice Consulting Group, has been advising restaurants for 16 years.

Tripoli covers the pros and cons in a class at the University of Houston Small Business Development Center entitled, Do you have what it takes to open a restaurant?  This summer he is teaching short classes on restaurant basics including marketing, menu planning and people management.

His message: “Opening a restaurant requires hard work, beginning with the business plan.”

“We tell people it’s not about being scared it’s about being prepared,” says Tripoli. “If your concept is not well-considered and well-funded, it can be very difficult.”

Staying in the business is a test of how much a person loves working in a restaurant.

“It’s very time intensive. You get into this business because you are passionate about it. You don’t think of it in terms of a short-term payoff . . . because that doesn’t usually happen:”

The failure rate, though, isn’t nearly as bad as the common wisdom that 90 percent of all restaurants fail in the first year. A study in the trade magazine, Restaurant Startup & Growth pegged the first-year failure rate at 30 to 40 percent. That can hit home hard.

“It’s a very personal business from the financial side. When you borrow money you are usually asked to offer a personal guarantee on any large line of credit, so owning a restaurant is a personal commitment. You get used to the idea really quickly.”

For those who make it, the personal rewards can also be great.

“There’s extreme satisfaction if this is what you are interested in – not only economic gains, but the personal satisfaction in creating something from scratch. “

Tripoli’s next class will be on June 9 on restaurant marketing. For more on classes at the UH Small Business Development Center click here. 

For questions on workshops and seminars call (713) 752-8488 or e-mail sbdctraining@uh.edu.

For more about Chris Tripoli click here.

Click here to hear the full Bauer Business Focus interview.

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